Several years ago, Brother and Dr. Ron Marshall’s developmentally disabled daughter was flying alone from Florida to Pittsburgh. The weather was bad and the plane was experience a good bit of turbulence. She was scared. She saw another passenger wearing a ring like daddy’s, so she approached him and told him her dad and brother had the same ring and that she was afraid. She asked if she could sit with him.
Without hesitation, this man switched his seat. He spent the remainder of the flight comforting her, assuring her that the bumps were not going to hurt her, and that they would land safely. After the flight, he accompanied her all the way past security and would not release her to her brother until he had examined him and found him to be a Mason, satisfying himself that she was safe and with the right people. When I asked Brother Marshall if I could share this story with his name attached, he replied, “Absolutely. I am so proud of this Fraternity because of how it took care of her.”
Similarly, this spring, Brother Danny Custodio, a Master Mason from San Juan, Puerto Rico contacted the Grand Lodge because his mother had been involved in an automobile accident in downtown Pittsburgh.
She called him early that morning, telling him that at 6:30 on her commute into work, her car was struck by a woman who then fled the scene. Danny’s mom was uninjured, so she pursued the woman for several blocks through Pittsburgh crowded rush hour streets (do not try this at home) until the woman finally pulled over. Once the police arrived, the woman was detained for driving under the influence. His mom assured him that she was okay, but Danny was concerned. He wanted to make sure that his mom was not downplaying the severity of the accident or her own condition. What could he do ease the helplessness when more than 1,700 miles and an ocean stood between him and his mom? He needed to know she was okay, but he had no family in Pittsburgh to help him.
Oh wait, of course he did.
He reached out to the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania who saw to it that someone made contact with her. Brother Bob Geiger and others called and stopped by to make sure she was okay and to see if there was anything she needed. She was overwhelmed by the outpouring of concern. She was touched not only by the deep love her son had for her, but by how, as she said, “someone who doesn’t even know me, or him for that matter, would take the time to make sure I’m okay.”
“Your son is our Brother,” she was told, “and this is what we do for each other. I know he would do the same for any of us.”
Danny was equally grateful. He was touched, though not at all surprised, that his Brothers answered his call. “[Plum Creek-Monroeville Lodge] will always have a special place in my heart for what you did for my mom and me,” he said. He added that what he referred to as a “wonderful act of compassion” now appears in the minutes of Hiram’s Disciples Lodge No. 104.
Tales like that remind me of why I love this Fraternity so much, and why the value of what we have will always far exceed what it costs us to belong. We are Master Masons. We are Brothers helping Brothers. The stories of Brothers Marshall and Custodio should remind us that we – all of us – are lucky enough to be part of a family that truly does not deem it a hardship to serve each other. As sure as I sit here, I know in my heart that those same Brothers who were shown an unexpected kindness would do the same in return when called upon. They understand that being a part of something special requires you to be special yourself.
I share these stories so that when someone asks you what’s so extraordinary about the Masons, you have yet another answer.
Freemasonry is great because time and again, individual Masons are given the chance to turn lofty ideals into noble action. It happens every day when a neighbor gets a ride to the Doctor’s office or a stranger in a parking lot is helped when her grocery bag rips open and spills its contents to the ground.
Never forget that you have the high privilege of being a part of the largest and greatest Brotherhood the world has ever known. The cost of that membership? Simply that, when and if you are fortunate enough to be able to serve one of your Brethren, you will do so willingly and to the best of your ability.
Are you willing to pay that price?
Can you afford not to?